One way to know you’re trying to do too much is if you’re feeling in a hurry, anxious, or worried while on vacation.
Often we get so excited to be in a new place and we want to see and do everything. Who knows when we might make it back, if ever?
Here’s the thing, it’s not possible to see and do everything. That’s the reality.
A great way to help you prioritize your time on a trip is to set an overall intention for your vacation.
Are you taking the trip to relax, sightsee, connect with family, experience the culture, explore in nature? You may want to do some or all those things, but one will stand out as the most important.
This will be the intention you focus on when planning your trip. Going somewhere to sightsee as the priority is very different than traveling to a destination for the purpose of relaxation.
If you’re traveling with children and want to get the most out of family time, an aggressive schedule with hard times to meet may leave you feeling strung out as you herd cats - cats that don’t want to see this or that monument/museum.
It’s best to get input from those traveling with you, but overall one person has to be the primary decision maker. That’s the military in me, but it does work. You’ve heard the saying about too many cooks in the kitchen.
As an example, the kids and I are traveling together this summer for my son’s birthday. The intention for the trip is for him to see and hang out with his good friends. I’ve not planned anything else other than our transportation.
It’s not a sightseeing trip - though that will probably happen anyway, but organically and not because I scheduled it. Knowing the intention, I can release any concerns about FOMO (fear of missing out) on something because the purpose of the trip doesn’t revolve around my desires.
My daughter knows that this trip is not about her and that she’ll have a separate birthday trip (yes I’ll have to remind her repeatedly). I’ve just found it to make things a lot easier.
Last week, we checked out the The Color Factory, a pop up art and color experience in downtown San Francisco. It's an instagramer's paradise where you can explore a blue room filled with blue balloons, a green room where you can write on the walls, rainbow rooms filled with macarons to taste, a studio filled with falling confetti, a room filled with disco balls, a life-sized lite brite (remember those?), and more.
What we loved about it: So much color! you can't help but feel delighted by high energy pigments. The best part was the yellow room where everyone could jump into a big yellow ball pit, take photos, and rekindle their inner 12-year-old.
What was left to be desired: As much as it was fun to take photos and act like playful kids, we wished there had been a greater educational element, more closely aligned to what you might see in a real museum. There is SO much to be said about color - the history of it, the uses, and more. We hope the expand on this in the future to give the exhibit a little more depth.
The verdict? A little pricier than we think it should be, but it's worth it. The Color Factory is closing soon, so go while you can! Go with your friends or family - it's a great way to connect whimsically together.
Can't make it to The Color Factory?
Here are some great color-related books recommended by Megan:
- The Secret Lives of Color
- Color: A Natural History of the Palette
- The Brilliant History of Color in Art
- Coloring Books for Grown-Ups
- Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns
Scenes From The Color Factory:
"May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be well. May you live your life at ease"
APPRECIATING THE WORLD AROUND YOU
Whenever you travel to a new place, you're very aware of all the scents, tastes, touches, textures, colors... how the air feels different.
Don't forget to stop and breathe at home, too, from time to time. Appreciate the World around you.
Here is a #zenmoment from this morning's sunrise in San Francisco, where we have been working this past week.
What are your (latest and greatest) favorite spots to watch the sunrise, hangout with friends, or enjoy spending your time in your home town or city? Comment back! We'd love to know!
Megan & Benef
How can offering free vacations help veterans heal from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
First, it’s important to understand that PTSD is not just a psychological disorder. Dr. Edward Tick in his book War and the Soul describes PTSD as “primarily a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic disorder - in effect, not a psychological but a soul disorder.” (page 108)
That being said, no amount of medication can fully heal a person suffering from PTSD. The soul requires more than drugs.
Tick offers a healing solution that embraces traditional societies’ concepts of warriors and the spiritual rituals performed for facilitating the warrior’s journey home from war. The four essential steps are (page 199):
1. Purification and Cleansing
3. Restitution in the Family and Nation
4. Initiation as a Warrior
Our mindful travel company comes into play in the second step of Storytelling and partially in the third step by offering a way for the veteran to reconnect with his or her family through travel.
We aim to tell the veteran’s story through the lens of travel helping to bridge the information gap between military and civilian populations’ understanding of the effects of war.
Doing this through a series centered around travel provides a unique way to address a difficult subject matter while also being uplifting and harnessing the joy that travelling creates.
Vacations also give the family a chance to reconnect away from the demands of work, school, domestic chores, and social obligations. The family suffers in a different way when the veteran comes home and is struggling with PTSD; they deserve time away to unplug and heal as well.
Our goal is to assist in the healing process any way we can. We work closely with organizations that work directly with veterans suffering from PTSD. These organizations have the requisite knowledge and skill to recommend to us families who can benefit from our vacations and retreats.
Contact us directly to learn more about how you can get involved.
firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
Source: Edward Tick, Ph.D, War and the Soul, (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, 2005)
In all the various disciplines of yoga, one commonality is the belief and reference to the seven different energy centers or chakras located within the body.
At dinner the other night, a friend suggested I lead mindfulness yoga and meditation retreats to the seven different energy centers of the earth.
Woah! Mind blown. It never occurred to me that the earth also had energy centers. Seems logical enough being that the earth is a living planet.
A quick google search turned up dozens of articles on the locations of the earth’s energy centers. With some variation, the consensus seemed to be the following locations:
1. Root Chakra - Mt. Shasta, California;
2. Sacral Chakra - Lake Titicaca, Bolivia & Peru;
3. Solar Plexus Chakra - Uluru & Kata Tjuta, Australia;
4. Heart Chakra - Glastonbury & Shaftesbury, England;
5. Throat Chakra - Great Pyramid of Giza & Mt. Sinai, Egypt and Mt. of Olives - Jerusalem, Israel;
6. Third Eye Chakra - this one apparently migrates and is currently located in Glastonbury & Shaftesbury, England;
7. Crown Chakra - Kailash, Tibet.
There are also high energy locations located at the poles.
Whether or not you believe in these energy centers is irrelevant. What you can believe rather easily is that the earth is a living planet and that these are some truly beautiful places to visit.
That being said - now I’m allowing myself to develop a new dream bucket list about actually leading mindfulness yoga and meditation retreats to all these places.
I have no doubt the experience would be that much richer with a group. Will you join me?
I’ve only had my baggage not arrive with me twice in the last five years. The second incident just happened on our recent return from Panama.
This time, just like the last, it served as a physical reminder that I had some emotional baggage to let go.
This transition from military to civilian has not gone as smooth as I thought, which surprises me quite a bit. I do not wish I was back in the Army, but am struggling a little trying to figure out who I am now without wearing the uniform everyday.
Lots of self reflection and discovery. As I am not by nature a patient person, I’m irritated with myself for not getting over it already.
So two things to discuss about the luggage. First, I did not have travel insurance. Oh, the horror of a travel professional traveling to a foreign country and not having insurance! Yes, that was bad, very bad; mainly because of the medical insurance aspect.
Though we do have military health insurance which is world wide, there isn’t a base in Panama anymore which means we would’ve had to pay up front for everything had we needed to go to a hospital.
Depending on the country and the services; payments could be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
I forgot to buy the insurance after buying the plane tickets. The thing about travel insurance is that it must be bought within the 14 or 21 day window (depending on the company) after first booking the trip. This is when it will be least expensive and you are covered for any pre-existing conditions.
Since I didn’t do that and called months later, it was quite expensive. We obviously accepted the risk. I was grateful that the luggage situation happened on the way home and not while flying there.
Travel insurance also covers delayed/lost baggage. Regardless, when traveling overseas, get the insurance, and get it early. Luck favors the prepared.
The second thing about the luggage; I was carrying around some emotional dead weight. You see, military retirees do not get the same level of immediate respect and attention that active duty personnel receive.
I’ve always understood this; active duty personnel deploy to dangerous places and it’s a volunteer Army. I’d heard retirees tell me they felt like second class citizens in the military world; one step above contractors, though not making nearly as much money.
However, one can never really prepare for how that actually feels until one undergoes the experience. Upon showing my retiree ID card for check in at the Fort Lauderdale airport, I get a cursory glance and nothing else. My husband gets “thank you for your service.”
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. What am I invisible? Or does she just not know what a retiree ID card looks like?
And then I assume (who knows what really happened) that the lady forgets to (or deliberately doesn’t - if I’m going down that negative thought road) put my bag on the conveyor belt and “poof” luggage now lost in the abyss of the airport underbelly.
I hope you can see the connection I’m trying to make. My lack of acceptance of “what is” and sense of continued entitlement is not serving me in the least.
Why didn’t I just show my driver’s license? Or military spouse ID card (another adjustment story)? I require a shift in my attitude - my insurance against this emotional baggage. I get this.
Changing and steering my thoughts to accept where I am in the now is the first step towards moving forward and through this transition.
Really didn’t think I’d be struggling with this though - so interesting and curious. Signing off for now, but don’t forget the travel insurance - both kinds!
Last week, we discussed the four elements that make up a team: The Group Leader, Individual Contributions, Mutual Purpose and Outcome, and Cohesion.
This week we break down how traveling together builds teams and how we can help you become the creative and mindful group leader you’ve always desired to be.
Let’s continue our discussion on cohesion. It’s needed to bond a group, but where does it come from? It springs from the passion we share for a certain activity, mission, or cause; this bonds the group together.
The act of doing the activity you love, or working for the cause you care about creates the cohesion needed for a highly functional team. This comes from working, playing, or socializing together often, and understanding each person’s strengths and weaknesses thus knowing how each person will contribute to the team.
For a business, a path to team building would include socializing regularly together outside of work. Social interaction is necessary to get to know teammates on a more personal level. Understanding what motivates an individual at work involves knowing his or her personal interests and concerns.
Social interaction begins to build another level of trust between team members outside of work. A next step for a business may be an offsite work day. Taking the team away from the daily workplace can spark inspiration, enhance collaboration, and increase efficiency as you hunker down and accomplish the task at hand.
How can a business or group take its team building to an even higher level? How do you create even more cohesion? You can achieve this by taking the team out of its normal environment and applying just a little bit of intensity and expectancy.
Military units stress their teams with extensive training exercises prior to a deployment. The intent is to force the group to rely on each other for accomplishments of daily (often dangerous) tasks, thus tightening the bonds between individuals, bringing the group closer, and building the trust needed to deploy a team to a combat zone.
We’re suggesting a much gentler and fun version of this removal from the everyday environment by traveling together. Though not by any means a military deployment, travel to new places can cause anxiety for several people. Unfamiliar surroundings and language can discourage people from going to explore a new country.
But what if you went with your team or group? What if your strength for adapting to new environments and routines complimented your golf or business partner’s tendency towards anxiety in these situations?
He or she would become stronger as an individual from your support, and the bond between you would strengthen from the trust built upon the shared experience. These types of interactions happen between multiple people on different occasions in a single group on one trip. You’ve created cohesion.
The group returns home and is much stronger than if they had never traveled together. An annual trip with your team is a fun way to build and maintain relationships and see the world.
These trips do not have to be far away or that long. But we will say that the farther you get away from a person’s comfort zone, the greater the opportunity for personal and team growth.
So how specifically can we help you build your team for your group retreat or vacation? In addition to our expertise in mindfulness and planning group travel, we have extensive knowledge and experience in creative coaching and leadership.
Through our retreat design process, we can help you tap into your inner creator that’s bursting at the seams with delicious and rich content to share with your followers. We’ll help you discover your individual leadership style and how to maximize your strengths to inspire others. Together we’ll create an adventure of a lifetime for you and your group.
There are many ways to build relationships and build teams. We of course love travel as a creative and fun way to do this. Why travel? Before I get into that, let me explain what we mean by team.
Coming from an Army background, the 3-4 person fireteam is the foundation upon which all other teams build. They continue to increase in size and serve many functions.
In the civilian world, there are sports teams, corporate and small business teams, and in fact any group of people that socialize, or function together in some way has the potential to be a team.
Families can be teams, church groups, neighborhood friends, college fraternities or sororities, running clubs, golf clubs, or any type of club for that matter. If a team has to be a group of people, what makes that group of people a team? For not every group of people operates as a team.
Each team must at least have these four elements; cohesion, a mutual purpose and outcome, individual contributions, and a leader.
1. The Leader.
Each group must have an identified leader. You’ve heard the old saying of “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” A team will remain stagnant if there is not a dedicated decision maker that the group trusts and is willing to follow.
Sometimes the group chooses the leader and all agree; other times there is no choice, but regardless of personal opinions, someone must rise up to lead.
2. Individual Contributions.
Secondly, each individual must contribute something unique and of value to the group. Often people may not know what their unique contribution should be. One of my mentor’s, Meredith Hill, says “you have to identify your brilliance.”
In many cases, it may be up to the leader to pull a person’s brilliance out of him or her. But, somehow each group member must contribute and know that he or she is of value to the team as it accomplishes its objective.
3. Mutual Purpose and Outcome.
This leads to the next element; the team must have a mutual purpose and outcome towards which they are working. Otherwise why have a group in the first place?
The purpose need not be complicated; perhaps it’s just to get together while tasting and enjoying new wines. The outcome of the wine club may be simply that the group learns about new vintages each week or month and has fun. Outcomes can change, but this is why the team exists.
The individual needs the team to accomplish what he (or she) cannot do by himself. She needs the person next to her to achieve a task of which she is passionate.
We achieve more together.
An Olympic runner in an individual event has a team behind her in coaches, trainers, nutritionists, doctors, sponsors, and friends and family. No one achieves greatness alone.
The final and most difficult element required is group cohesion. How on earth do you achieve that? You cannot appoint cohesion like you can a leader. You cannot create cohesion as an individual, and you cannot achieve your mutual purpose and outcome without it.
It can seem like this abstract concept that must occur somehow. But, is it really abstract? What bonds you to another person? If you play tennis, you’ll gravitate towards others who play tennis. The same holds true for many hobbies and often we also become friends as well.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where I’ll discuss how travel builds teams and how we specifically can help you become the creative and mindful leader you desire to be to build your team and travel with your group.
By Benefsheh Verell, CEO
There are two ways to travel. One way is just like you’d expect; the other type of travel you can do without moving a muscle.
Let’s talk about the traditional way first as this is after all our specialty. Yes, I’m talking about going on vacation. Have you thought about what you want to do this summer or for the holiday season? Not sure? We can help you discover new adventures.
Have you ever considered traveling to an unfamiliar country alone? Solo travel is nothing new, but many people feel intimidated by the prospect of navigating unfamiliar territory and languages by themselves.
Did you know there are companies in the travel industry that specialize in taking care of people who want to explore on their own? We have the partnerships, the means, and the intuition to design a travel experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Is there a special group you’d like to take on an adventure? Perhaps your book club would like to walk the highlands of Scotland traveling back in time to Outlander days. Or, maybe your passion is hiking and you’ve always dreamed of conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro or trekking in Patagonia.
Whatever your passions, we can cultivate your desires into the journey of your dreams for both you and your friends, family, clients, employees, or coworkers.
But, wait! You’re thinking “she said I could travel without moving, how is that possible?”
Through the power of your mind. We are a mindful travel company, and I would be remiss if I didn’t stress the importance and effectiveness of visualization and meditation.
Studies have shown that when people who mentally rehearsed an exercise (such as playing the piano or bicep curls) were compared with those who actually did the exercise, physiologically the body changed almost as much as those who physically performed the exercise. (notes 1,2)
This is why athletes that visualize their desired experience ahead of time do so well during the actual event. It has already happened for them. So, you can essentially take 10-15 minutes to visualize where you’d like to go on vacation.
Think about what the landscape looks like, how the weather will be, the sounds you might hear, and the smells in the air. Think about what you would do and see, where you would walk or drive each day.
Most importantly, allow yourself to feel emotionally what you would feel as if you were actually on the trip. Would you feel joy, gratitude, peace, love, relief? Allow your body to experience these emotions.
Pretty cool, huh? You can travel to Hawaii today and Greece tomorrow. Not bad for never leaving your chair.
1. Cohen, Philip, “Mental gymnastics increase bicep strength.” New Scientist (21 November 2001).
2. Yue, G., and K.J. Cole, “Strength increases from the motor program: comparison of training with maximal voluntary and imagined muscle contractions.” Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 67(5): 1114-1123 (1992).
I’ve been contemplating lately how to be more present when all I want is for this windy, gray, and cold weather to go away. The last vestiges of winter are holding on here in PA and on the east coast and I’m done with it.
If you’re feeling the same way due to living in a similar climate, there are three changes you can make to break out of a weather induced mental rut.
1. Change Your Environment.
If you have the time and the means, then a short (or long) trip to someplace sunny and warm is an all time favorite to lift the spirits. This is where we can help you; by planning your trip and recommending locations and activities geared towards your desires and needs.
Even if a trip isn’t in your immediate future, taking a bath, lighting candles or incense, and playing music may change the scenery enough to where your thoughts and emotions shift.
2. Change Your Thinking.
It doesn’t cost a thing, but is arguably the hardest of the three changes. Why is that? According to Dr. Joe Dispenza in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, changing your thoughts without also changing the way you feel in your body doesn’t produce as effective results when trying to transform mental stagnation. Both the mind and body must work together; the mind thinking the thoughts and the body feeling the emotion.
Watching a funny movie, reading an engaging novel, or listening to a guided meditation like iRest or the kind you can find on Insight Timer are all quick and free ways to put you in the higher energy emotions such as joy, love, and gratitude. These activities will get your thoughts and emotions working together and on the route to improving your overall well being.
3. Change Your Body.
If the above seems too challenging or your body doesn’t want to sit still, you can change the feelings in the body using activity which will ultimately change your thoughts.
Exercise is a classic producer of endorphins, making the body feel pleasurable and in turn helping to produce more joyful thoughts. In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek talks about how performing an act of kindness for someone or something releases the chemical oxytocin and will make you feel good as well.
People watching you perform the act of kindness also release oxytocin in their bodies; so you really would be spreading joy! Also, the act of touch - getting a long hug or receiving a massage will release oxytocin.
Contact us for a trip design consultation call and sign up for our newsletter for more great tips on both travel and mindfulness.